Longevity of Gimbals?

Behind_The_Lens Posts: 161 Just Starting Out*
edited October 2018 in Practical Filmmaking

hi forums!

i am considering getting a gimbal for my videos- I was just wondering- has anyone had any experiences with the longevity of them?

have you had any mechanical issues, where it breaks down? 



  • BobDiMarzio
    BobDiMarzio Posts: 624 Just Starting Out

    I am only a hobbyist so feature film gear is not something I think about.   I use a hero 5 with a Karma grip and I am very satisfied with what it provides to my content.  there are tons of video on Youtube related to gimbals that can probably answer your questions.

  • TxH003
    TxH003 Posts: 38 Just Starting Out*

    I own a Glidecam Centurion gimbal and it has served me well.  No mechanical issues to note.  However, it did take some experimentation to properly calibrate the gimbal software to my preference.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,292 Power User
    edited October 2018

    Haven't owned my gimbals for long enough to have mechanical issues. The internet will be your friend here. 

    What I can give is general advice for choosing a gimbal, noting I now have a Zhiyun Crane 2 and Zhiyun Smooth Q. Crane 2 is a gimbal for DSLR/Mirorless bodies, the Smooth Q is for phones and GoPro.

    start with what kind of camera you're going to mount, and your lenses. Zhiyun has a Smooth 4 (smartphone) gimbal, but its not rated for the weight of a GoPro and adapter plate, so the Smooth 4 wasn't right for me. I use a Canon 5D Mkiv with the 24-70mm f/2.8. I looked at the Crane Plus, but, again, it didn't have the weight rating of the Crane 2. Ultimately weight limits ended up being a strong deciding factor.

    Form factor is important. One hand vs. two hand. Two-hand is obviously larger and heavier. A consideration for me is keeping size and weight down. Both my gimbals are one-hand, but the Crane 2 has an optional two-hand grip. Now, gimbals have one area where they suck - weight distribution is forward of your body, so the stress is on your shoulders and lower back. A two-hand grip distributes weight more evenly. My gimbals are going overseas and I have weight limits. Again, the one-hander with optional two-hand was correct for me.

    Features: hardware, basic function is to steady the camera on the Z-axis and smooth out x/y axes. Pretty much every gimbal has a joystick for pan/tilt. So... What's the (hardware) extras? Can you get a wireless remote? (yes, for the Zhiyuns). Is there a status screen on the gimbal? Crane 2, yes, Smooth W, no. Since most gimbals have multiple modes, a status screen helps know your settings. On the Crane 2 I can set camera functions on the handle so the screen displays that info as well. The Crane 2 has a focus module where I can strap a belt around the lens and pull focus from a knob on the gimbal. If I had an interior zoom lens that same unit could pull a zoom.

    How does the unit balance? Some use counterweights. The Zhiyun are set up where the arms can all slide to find the balance point. A counterweight system is more durable  but change the body or lens and you have to change weights. Slides are a potential point of failure, but are a lot easier to rebalance if you change body or lens. 

    Features: software. App? Probably. Does the app allow for camera control or just the gimbal itself? Time-lapse? Motion control? The Zhiyun app allows storable, repeatable motion. This allows clone shots with a moving camera, or I could shoot a greenscreen plate for an actor with a move, then maybe shoot the same motion on a table-top for an Ant-Man effect. The Zhiyun app also allows motion tracking, where I select an object and it stays centered in frame. This is wonderful for hyperlapse. Can the app change default hardware controls, like reverse joystick directions? Can you adjust manual calibration? Here's why I rejected the DJI OSMO+. I intend on sticking my gimbal on a monopod to do crane-type shots. The Osmo's default mode has the gimbal tilting up and down with the handle. For "crane" shots I don't want that. The only override is to hold down the trigger. The app doesn't allow this to remap and I don't want to keep tape in my kit to tape the trigger. Osmo out, Smooth Q in. In this case I looked at the Zhiyun smartphone gimbals because I already had the Crane 2, so it's just one app on my phone for both gimbals. 

    Price: internet is your friend. I got both gimbals on 50% off sales.

    Brand: I've talked Zhiyun a lot because that's what I happen to own. Some swear by Ronin, others by Feiyun-tech. I can't remember the name offhand  but another company sells rebranded Zhiyun (at a higher price).

    For reliability, you end up looking at older gimbals  just because it has to have been out for six months to a year for anyone to be able to judge long-term reliability.

    Hope this helps  

  • Behind_The_Lens
    Behind_The_Lens Posts: 161 Just Starting Out*

    I’m considering picking up a like new one or perhaps refurb on ebay( a crane v2). Thanks for the help!

    just wanted to make sure it won’t crap out on me the day after I buy it :)

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  • WhiteCranePhoto
    WhiteCranePhoto Posts: 923 Enthusiast

    I've heard some good things about the Zhiyun gimbals, so I'm thinking of picking one up at some point... though most likely I'll wait until I see what the cinema camera module for the Hydrogen is like first. I got myself a Movi since it can handle a Hydrogen (which is starting to ship today), but I don't know whether or not it will be able to handle a Hydrogen with its cinema camera module + a lens on it.

    The newest Zhiyun model looks pretty promising though, it looks as if Zhiyun actually put quite a bit of thought into alleviating the hand-held problem. That's the one I'm eyeing at present. It might even be able to handle my current camera if I put a smaller lens than the Sigma Art zooms I have on it. :)


  • I have been using the Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal with my iPhone 8 for almost half a year now. I haven't had any problems with it so far and all of the reviews I have read have been quite positive. So I guess it comes down to the brand that you go with.

  • silar
    silar Posts: 67 Just Starting Out
    edited December 2018

    I have the Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal also.  Have had it for a few months now and have used it on and off.  I use it with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.  Specifically chose it since it could handle more weight than the DJI Osmo Mobile 2.  I really like it and it holds my phone fine.  Also is supported in Filmic Pro, and the ZY Play app isn't half bad either.  Love having the focus/zoom control on the handle.  I can't say really anything negative about it.

    Will I get a DSLR gimble?  Probably.  Will it be a Zhiyun?  Probably also...  Mainly because I really like the Smooth 4's features and build quality and it hasn't let me down yet.

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Posts: 3,342 Ambassador

    I'm seriously considering picking up a gimbal for my phone, and like what I see of the SMOVE Mobile, especially its extendable handle, though it's a little pricier than others. Anyone have experience with it?

  • tddavis
    tddavis Posts: 5,222 Expert

    @CleverTagline I have something like that for my video cameras but never realized they made them for cell phones, too.  I liked that smove one a lot because of that repeatability feature; not watched a video on the others mentioned yet to know if that's a regular thing or just special to smove.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,292 Power User

    @tddavis it's pretty standard these days for smartphone gimbals to have repeatable motion, face/object tracking, etc. 

    It's one of those things that absolutely floors me... Only three years ago one would have paid a couple of thousand dollars for a motion-control pan/tilt/roll head. Now it's on a gimbal for under a hundred bucks! 

    Although I have found, in practice, attempting to use a smartphone gimbal to do things like Clone shots with camera moves to be problematic. First, the move/motors on a hundred dollar gimbal aren't as accurate as the $2000 motion control rig. Second, the crappy VFR recording of a smartphone can cause timing drift, even with a transcode.

    But  not too far above the smartphone gimbals are the mirrorless/DSLR gimbals, and  with those  you're getting more precise movements (and CFR recording) on under $500 gimbals! 

  • rutxer
    rutxer Posts: 176

    I have very little experience and have only owned a Smooth Q for phones and the Feiyutech a1000 for dslr/mirror less.

    @Triem23 is right about form factor and weight, but I found a pretty good compromise with the a1000. Can be found for 350€ new with the dual handle pack, which means that can be used with either single or dual handle with full controls. Has a payload of 1.7kg and weights very little.

    I used it with the Sony A7 III and the Tamron 28-75, and also with the GH5 and Oly 12-40.

    And after shooting "Just waiting for Friday" with it and trying single Vs dual handle I'd personally go with dual handle every single time! Easier to handle, less back strain and you can mount a monitor or microphone on top of the handles. It's also safer to leave on a surface when having a break, moving lights or talking with the actors.

    The a2000 is also pretty affordable, handles more payload but doesn't have a slanted motor like the a1000. Ok... I am very happy with it, I'll admit that!! :)

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